Print Version    Email to Friend
Father-daughter drowning at US-Mexico border sparks sadness and outrage

VATICAN (SE): “With immense sadness, the Holy Father has seen the images of the father and his baby daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande River while trying to cross the border between Mexico and the United States,” interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, told reporters on June 26, Vatican News reported.
 
Twenty-five-year-old Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, from El Salvador, drowned in the Rio Grande River on Sunday, as they attempted to reach the United States (US) from Mexico. Their bodies washed ashore on the Mexican side of the border, in Matamoros, in Tamaulipas state, across from Brownsville, Texas.
 
The photo of the two floating lifeless on the banks of the river sparked further outrage against the migrant-hostile policies of the government of US president, Donald Trump.
 
“The pope is profoundly saddened by their death, and is praying for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery,” Gisotti told the press.
 
A reporter for La Jornada, Julia Le Duc, told The Guardian newspaper that Ramirez arrived in Matamoros on Sunday with his wife, Vanessa Avalos, and daughter hoping to request asylum.
 
Le Duc recounted that when he realised that it could be weeks before they were even able to start the asylum process, Martínez decided they should swim across.
 
“He crossed first with the little girl and he left her on the American side. Then he turned back to get his wife, but the girl went into the water after him. When he went to save her, the current took them both,” Le Duc told The Guardian.
 
Dozens of people have died already this year attempting to cross the Rio Grande—known as the Rio Bravo in Mexico. Vatican News reported that on June 23, two infants, a toddler, and a woman were found dead from heat exhaustion in Anzalduas Park, in the southern Texas city of Mission.
 
Rosa Ramirez, Martínez, mother, said her son left El Salvador trying to give his almost two-year-old daughter a better life in United States, CBS News reported on June 27.
 
“I’m feeling so many different things now,” Ramirez said. “You never let go. You can tell he was trying to protect her.”
 
According to CBS News, Martínez' family said he spent weeks trying to seek asylum at the US Consulate in Mexico, but couldn’t get anyone to talk to him. His father said he was there about two or three months.
 
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement on June 26, “This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis?” 
 
It said, “Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters. Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government. We can and must remain a country that provides refuge for children and families fleeing violence, persecution and acute poverty. All people, regardless of their country of origin or legal status, are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect.”

More from this section